OC’s Worst Ballot Designations
Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 29, 2012
The most important thing a candidate does in a campaign may well be selecting a ballot designation. That little phrase underneath a candidate’s name are the last piece of information that voters see before casting their ballots. In low-profile races (like Central Committee, where you can’t even get a candidate’s statement in the sample ballot), that little phrase may well be the only piece of information that voters see before casting their ballots.
Adam Probolsky has written about good and bad ballot designations, on (I believe) both Flash Report and old Red County, and he’s spoken about them in the press. Inspired by his old commentary, I now present to you Orange County’s worst ballot designations (I’ll write about Orange County’s best ballot designations next week).
OC’s Ten Worst Ballot Designations
I would be shocked if any of these people with truly awful ballot designations win (with the possible exception of Lupe Moreno, who might be able to overcome her awful designation with her high name ID):
- Student (Roberta J. Reid in the Fullerton Recall, Kathryn Pena in the 73rd District Democratic Central Committee)
The electorate does not vote for students. Sorry, life’s unfair, but voters will not vote for a student. Some of you will point to young candidates who have been elected, but guess what, they didn’t use the “Student” ballot designation.
My advice to students running for office: pick “Community Volunteer” if you don’t have a job or “Businessman” or “Businesswoman” if you have a job (even a part-time job).
- Musician, Artist (Matthew Hakim in the Fullerton Recall)
What on earth makes a musician or an artist qualified to hold elected office? People like to listen to music and to look at art, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to vote for musicians or artists.
My advice to musicians and artists running for office: pick “Businessman” or “Businesswoman”
- Homemaker (Patricia Ross in the 72nd District Republican Central Committee)
While homemakers are absolutely essential to the well-functioning of people’s homes and ultimately, society, people are unwilling to vote for homemakers for elected office. Sorry, as with students, life is unfair, and voters will not cast their ballots for homemakers.
My advice to homemakers running for office: pick “Community Volunteer”
- Self-Employed Hairdresser (Heidi A. Bressler in the 74th District Democratic Central Committee)
Why is anyone going to vote for a hairdresser? Voters aren’t going to go for that. What special attributes does a hairdresser bring to elected office?
My advice to self-employed hairdressers running for office: pick “Small Business Owner” or “Businesswoman/Entrepreneur”
- Office Specialist (Lupe Moreno in the 69th District Republican Central Committee)
What is an office specialist? I think it’s something clerical. (For the record, this is the County’s description.) If Lupe Moreno wins, it’ll be due to her long-term name ID in spite of her ballot designation.
My advice to office specialists running for office: “Office Coordinator” or “Analyst” makes you sound more impressive.
- Plumbing Contractor (Kevin Richardson in the 73rd District Republican Central Committee)
Unless you’re Joe the Plumber, I really don’t think voters are going to vote for anyone with “Plumbing” as part of their ballot designation. People just aren’t big fans of plumbers. Think of all the stereotypes of plumbers, and they aren’t flattering.
My advice to plumbing contractors running for office: pick “Small Businessman” or “Business Contractor”
- Retail Sales Associate (Joshua Robert Morales in the 68th District Republican Central Committee)
Why would voters cast their ballots for a retail sales associates? What makes a retail sales associate uniquely qualified for office?
My advice to retail sales associates running for office: “Businessman” or “Businesswoman”
- Retired Executive Secretary (Heide Krueger in the 74th District Democratic Central Committee)
Executive secretaries are key players in what happens in an office and control access to the executives. However, life’s unfair, and many people lack respect for the position and will not vote for one.
My advice to [retired] executive secretaries running for office: “[Retired] Businesswoman” or “[Retired] Businessman”
- Executive Assistant (Erin Shawn in the 73rd District Democratic Central Committee)
Executive assistants have virtually the same problem as executive secretaries, though there may be some people who make distinctions between the assistants and secretaries.
My advice to executive assistants running for office: “Businesswoman” or “Businessman”
- Retired Recreation Supervisor (Glen Stroud in the 69th District Republican Central Committee)
What would motivate people to vote for a recreation supervisor? Stroud’s claims to fame as being a twice-ousted Santa Ana City Commissioner and a grand juror likely does not produce high enough name ID to overpower this bad ballot designation.
My advice to [retired] recreation supervisors running for office: “[Retired] County Manager” or “[Retired] City Supervisor” (Stroud is the former, FYI); unfortunately, these are not interchangeable as “[Retired] County Supervisor” and “[Retired] City Manager” would be unacceptable due to their wildly different meanings.
(In all cases above from my advice, businessman/businesswoman/businessperson are interchangeable, of course.)
Worst Set of Ballot Designations in One Race: CD-46
- Escrow Company Owner (Pat Garcia, Republican)
- Tax Accountant (Jorge Rocha, Republican)
- United States Representative – 47th District (Loretta Sanchez, Incumbent Democrat)
- Local Independent Businessman (Jerry Hayden, Republican)
- Strategy Manager/Accountant (John J. Cullum, Republican)
The old saying, “less is more” applies to all five of these ballot designations. None of these in and of themselves would make the list of worst ballot designations, but collectively, they are the worst set of any one race.
- Garcia should have just gone with “Small Business Owner” as his ballot designation. I can’t imagine there’s a huge voter base of escrow officers.
- Rocha should have just gone with “Accountant” or “Businessman” because a “Tax Accountant” sounds like some horrible agent of the IRS even though his job is actually helping people battle the IRS.
- Sanchez should have left her district number off. She inadvertently makes herself look like a carpetbagger when really her district was simply renumbered. Fortunately for her, she has very high name ID in her district (high even for an incumbent) and throughout the county, and frankly it’s still by far the best ballot designation in this contest.
- Hayden slapped on too many adjectives and picked odd wording. People are more used to “Small Businessman” than “Independent Businessman” in their common vernacular. Indeed, “Local Independent Businessman” sounds much colder and unfriendly than “Local Small Businessman” as a ballot designation.
- On Cullum: what exactly is a Strategy Manager anyway?
So those are Orange County’s worst ballot designations. I’ll write next week about Orange County’s best ballot designations.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should note my day job is working in the Fullerton office of Assemblyman Chris Norby, who served on the Fullerton City Council from 1984-2002. One of my co-workers in the office is Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, who was elected in 2010 and is not a target of the recall. Since I referenced him at the start of this post, I should also note I have not spoken to Adam Probolsky [nor Chris Norby or Bruce Whitaker, for that matter] about this post, although I hope he would be in agreement with my analysis above. The opinions expressed in this post are exclusively my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chris Norby, Bruce Whitaker, or Adam Probolsky.)